Career and leadership advice from women who are going places

Every now and then I tap into my community to ask their advice.   This time I asked them for their #1 piece of advice for ambitious women who are tackling big, hairy, ambitious career goals - whether that's landing a Board role, establishing a consultancy, or refining and honing their leadership brand. Thanks to everyone who contributed! Couldn't have done it without you.


So here it is - 14 Terrific Tips to Get to the Top - from those who are already doing it.

“Lead with purpose; be clear of your team's and organisation's goals, the 'why' - and keep bringing discussions back to the 'why' to help guide yourself and the team”  Kaisu Christie, Head of Innovation and Digital, BoQ
“Be the person today that you want to become tomorrow. It starts now.” - Deborah Young, Strategic Advisor, CSIRO, Data61
“Do not let self doubt stop you from achieving your goals. Know that everyone including successful senior executives will have gone through this phase. In fact most probably still have those  moments of doubt. The trick is to forge ahead and as they say "fake it" until one day you will realise you no longer need to because you will have arrived!” - Tanya Singh, Global Lead - Remuneration and Benefits, Nufarm Limited
“Back yourself and make that leap of faith. A lot of folk believe leaders should know all the answers, however, more than often we don’t! The difference is as leaders, to trust our instincts to assist with crafting our decisions. Back yourself, make that leap of faith and show you can lead with decisiveness and confidence.” - Carla Wall,  Managing Director - COINS Australasia
“Ask for specific feedback on your leadership skills from your colleagues - be sure to ask for two positives and one thing holding you back.  It’s amazing how helpful this can be.” - Samantha Phillips, MIEAust, CPEng, NER, P.Eng., Principal Petroleum Engineer, Origin
“If you find yourself feeling negative or in a negative situation, know that you can decide within yourself how it’s going to impact you. Look for the positives and think positively because mindset is a very powerful key.” - Jess McCorkill, Client Experience Manager/ Head of Culture, Buzinga App Development
“Be confident in yourself. Self-confidence is one of the most important components of projecting your ability to lead to a wider audience. Even if you don’t know how to do something, chances are that you will be able to work it out very quickly anyway. So trust in your knowledge, experience and skills.” - Karen Goldsmith, General Manager, Visual Connections Australia Ltd
"Never under value your emotional intelligence. It's a critical component in great decision making. And businesses need women to help them make better decisions. Sadly in my experience, most roles advertised at that mid to senior level leadership level in this space receive less than 20% female applicants." - Anna Cheban, Sales Recruitment Specialist (FMCG), Robert Walters
"When reaching out and connecting on LinkedIn or other, don’t be shy - aim big!  Contact your favourite author, a CEO you admire or even a celebrity.  There are plenty of people out there to contact and connect with who can support you. " - Lynne Morris-Phillips, Business Administration, Customer Service and Social Media Marketing
“Know Your Worth - Too often, people accept and settle for less because they underestimate themselves. Invest in yourself, set your value and confidence as high as you have earned them.” Maria Djuarto, ERM – Procurement & Sourcing, Shared Services, NAB
“Spend time to get to know your authentic self. Spend additional time understanding what it means to you to achieve and what expertise, personality traits and values you will rely on. You cannot be perfect at everything so you need to find those authentic elements and focus really hard on them.  Polish and reflect on them when you feel positive as that is what will shine when the chips are down.  It's surprising how consistent and reliable others will see you if your authentic self never changes no matter what is thrown at you. Even though we need to consider others i.e. our boss / the Board in order to succeed in our role or to the next role. Regardless the following Edward to de Bono quote helps me remember that it's my sense of self that really matters." - Meg Liston, Head of Project Management Office, Kinetic Super
The image that concerns most people is the reflection they see in other people’s minds.
— Edward de Bono
“Create systems in your life that reduce your need to make decisions. Clear your mind and create space for strategic thinking, planning and making smart decisions that have big impact results that help you achieve your vision.   As an example, use Sunday to make all of your menial decisions for the week, cut up all of your vegetables and meat for lunch and dinner, pre-plan your exercise, me-time and play time. Schedule all activities into your calendar. All of the decisions you make around small tasks like what to eat and when to exercise take up will power and space that could be used for accessing your zone of genius. You'll notice a huge change in your capacity to think quick and smart at work!” Katelyn Duckworth, Marketing Manager, Buzinga App Development
“Get clear - this requires work and maybe some mentoring/counseling.  Map out the steps to your destination - this allows you to work out what is required to get to your goals. Keep it real - make your goals realistic, don't be too hard on yourself!” - Sonya Furlong, Events Specialist, Platinum Events
“Build strong relationships - at the top end no one makes it there faster than when someone has a strong, cheering network.  Building strong relationships that influence people at the top and gives you power to make things happen.   It's also worth building relationships with those around you to ensure your dreams/projects succeed.  Trust and integrity go a long way in business.” - Cindy Drake, Productivity Consultant, Simplify Success

My advice?  Don't let other people's definition of success define you. Don't let other people tell you what you can and can't do.  It's your life. It's your career. There are so many examples, case studies and role models now of people who are playing (and winning) outside of traditionally defined guidelines - so why not you? 

As a wise woman once said to me -

The best revenge is happiness.

As Toni Morrison says -

Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.

 Got a BHAG that you are yearning to tackle? Don't let other people's definitions of success get in your way. Just go for it.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition


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